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Saturday 17 November 2018

Blue machine keeps rolling

Tyrone will need to be ultra brave to stop Dublin from winning 'four-in-a-row'

Dublin’s Ciarán Kilkenny is tackled by Galway’s Eoghan Kerin during Saturday’s All- Ireland SFC semi-final clash at Croke Park
Dublin’s Ciarán Kilkenny is tackled by Galway’s Eoghan Kerin during Saturday’s All- Ireland SFC semi-final clash at Croke Park

Another All-Ireland final appearance for a team that is showing no signs of slowing down and the hunger level seems as great as it was back in 2011 when most of these guys picked up their first of five medals.

It is a remarkable feat and the ease at which they accounted for Galway on Saturday might suggest that there is so much more in the tank. Galway came to play but when you spend your whole year essentially working on the defensive part of your game it is no surprise when your attacking game lacks real cutting edge despite having some extremely capable players.

In Damien Comer, Shane Walsh and Ian Burke they have real attacking strength, but the team have no clue how to use them efficiently and seldom work the ball to them when they are in good scoring positions.

All too often on Saturday they spent far too much time chasing Dublin defenders up the pitch and when they did decide to kick the ball in it usually came far too late in the play and more often the wrong type of delivery.

Dublin on the other hand were always incredibly efficient when in possession and displayed real calm when working the ball into a shooting position, converting a very high percentage of chances.

In the second period in particular it was as good a performance in that respect as we have seen, with most chances converted, and because of this the game was all but over as a contest with plenty of time still to play.

Some of the scores in that second half were of the simple nature but when you look closely what you'll see is a forward line that move the ball with purpose and precision and above all, accuracy, at all times.

Attack

It is never spectacular but always wonderfully simple and what we are all witnessing is a proper team that can defend as well as any other team but more importantly they attack with a ruthless efficiency that we haven't seen from any other team for a very long time.

If Galway or any other team for that matter has ambitions of closing the gap never mind beating this current Dublin team then they will need to spend hours and hours developing their offensive game. Fourteen scores just isn't going to get the job done.

Dublin scored 25 times on Saturday even though their opponents had numbers behind the ball, so a change of mindset is required otherwise it isn't beyond belief that this Dublin team could win five, six or seven in a row.

Mayo, in fairness to them, have consistently troubled us over the last seven years because they have an attacking style of play that always keeps the Dublin defenders honest in terms of defending. It is a style that Dublin struggle with but other than Mayo there are very few other teams willing to play in that manner.

I think Kerry might have brought similar problems had they progressed but with both gone it is hard to see anything other than a Dublin win and an historic four-in-a-row. This team are just too good and too focused to let any team get in the way.

Galway were their latest victims, but they did put in a decent first half and had a glorious chance of leading by three points mid-way but missed a penalty and one sensed that with that miss their opportunity was lost.

Dublin were able to control the rest of the half and really took over after the break with the help of a bench that would be automatic starters on every other team in the country. What a luxury that must be for Jim Gavin knowing that he has six or seven brilliant players to bring in when the game is opening up, and the opposition are tiring.

Not only is he bringing in top quality players but he alone has created a culture where each player is hungry and eager to impress. It is a winning culture and an absolute privilege to be experiencing it and from a Dublin perspective and long may it continue.

They will prepare now for another final, their sixth in just eight years with the minimum of fuss and they won't be too concerned about the opposition. The homework will be done as normal, but they will concentrate on their own performance and will prepare to meet the high standards that they have created over the last few years.

If Tyrone are to have any chance of winning their fourth All-Ireland title they will need to be ultra-brave and be prepared to go for the game from the throw-in until the very end.

They will also need to convert about 90 percent of their scoring opportunities and they will obviously have to defend and limit the Dubs to about 18 scoring opportunities.

If they turn up in three weeks' time with a similar game then it will be a very one-sided game and a procession for the Dubs.

Yesterday they just about deserved their victory and in the end it boiled down to the little things that saw them home.

Monaghan looked very nervous throughout and made the type of basic errors that you don't usually associate with them but with an All-Ireland final place on offer it was no surprise to see their talismen taking the wrong options.

They will look back at the game with huge regret because this may well represent their best opportunity to get to the final. Tyrone were cuter but I don't think they have the class to stop the Dubs.

It will be a fascinating occasion in three weeks time.

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